NBA Playoffs: Leastern Conference vs. San Antonio Spurs or Los Angeles Lakers?

Coach HZLContributor IJanuary 22, 2011

The Lakers are on a collision course with the Spurs right now. These two guys are more than familiar with that scenario.
The Lakers are on a collision course with the Spurs right now. These two guys are more than familiar with that scenario.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Say what you want about the Celtics, Heat, Bulls and Magic, as they are all really good teams. Once you get past the East's top four though, it really stinks of a first-round playoff exit for the rest of the field.

The only team with any hope of improving their chances of first-round survival is the New York Knicks. I'm sure this will infuriate some supporters, but without significant transactions, the top four is as rigid as Bill Cosby's dance moves.

Currently, eighth place in the West is four games over .500 and belongs to the busted yet perky Portland Trail Blazers. Move your attention to the East and you'll see that Indiana currently hold the No. 8 seed with a 16-23 record. If Indiana were in the West, they would be 12th.

As much as we all state that this is a super-competitive season, in a lot of ways it's really not. The East will be won by one of the current top four, and they are highly likely to face off against the Lakers or the Spurs in the NBA Finals.

I know what you're thinking—what about the Mavericks, Thunder and Jazz? Well, I think they are all good teams, but I also think it's extremely obvious that none of those teams will defeat the Lakers or Spurs in seven games.

To be fair, I should give you some perspective as to where my heart is when it comes to the NBA. I am a lifelong lover of all things NBA, and most recently, all things Kobe Bryant.

But I'm also a lifelong Spurs hater, and can't think of anything worse than seeing the Spurs hold another championship trophy aloft. I can't help it, I'm just a massive Spurs hater from way back and it isn't going to change.

But facts are facts and while I don't like the Spurs, I have grown to respect them. Gregg Popovich is one of the best NBA coaches ever and Tim Duncan is one of the best power forwards to have ever played the game. Manu Ginobili, while playing well is more of a diver than Vlade Divac and Greg Louganis combined. Respect does not equal "like."

As for the Lakers, as far as I am concerned, Kobe is the man. I have followed his career since the start and am proud to have picked him as one of my "favorites" in his rookie year. I obsessively followed the Lakers for a few years, pining for Kobe to win a championship without Shaq and was happy when that was achieved. I also admire Phil Jackson and was very happy to see him claim the record for most championships coached.

But these days I call a spade a spade and until the Lakers or Spurs fall eight games short of the West's fourth seed, they'll always be a strong chance to win it all.

Back to the East now and if you're like me you do the following things almost daily:

- Laugh at the Atlanta Hawks

- Be confused by the New York Knicks

- Feel sorry for the Milwaukee Bucks because of Michael Redd's $18 million nut-punch

- Cry for Cleveland fans who experienced a whole different kind of nut-punch

- Marvel at Boston's teamwork

- Wish Dwight Howard were angrier

Just a side note, but I find it hilarious that the Hawks last year were bent out of shape that the media kept mentioning a "top three" and didn't consider them to be in the elite top four of the Eastern Conference. Their performances in last year's playoffs and this year's first 44 games prove exactly why they didn't stack up then or now.

Anyway, I'm ranting.

So in conclusion please write it down, take a picture, put it in your diary. I will be completely shell-shocked if the NBA Finals don't feature the San Antonio Spurs or Los Angeles Lakers. I will also be equally surprised if the Celtics, Heat, Bulls and Magic don't remain when the first-round dust settles.

From there, who knows? I guess once it reaches that point, a competitive second season we will see.

Thanks for reading.